Top 10 National Trust places with a difference

I joined the National Trust yesterday, it’s compulsory in the UK when you’re approaching 60!  At £6 a month (£72 a year) it seemed good value.  I shunned the over 60 lifetime membership which at £1,295 seemed somewhat optimistic!  Hopefully I’ll regret the decision if I get to 78.

The National Trust looks after our coastline, historic sites, countryside and green spaces, and is the biggest conservation charity in Europe.  Their shared places stretch from Lizard Point in Cornwall, to Lindisfarne in Northumberland and comprise:

  • Over 780 miles of coastline
  • More than 250,000 hectares of land
  • Over 500 historic houses, castles, parks, and gardens
  • Nearly one million works of art

I’d always assumed that the National Trust was all about stately homes, manor houses, churches and castles. Nothing wrong that, of course, I had a great day last week at Blenheim Palace but there’s no harm in a bit of variety.

Have downloaded the app and have drawn up a list my top 10 quirky attractions all within about an hour’s drive.

Stoneywell, Ulverscroft, Leicestershire – zigzagging from its rocky outcrop, Stoneywell is the realisation of one man’s Arts and Crafts vision within a family home.  Original furniture and family treasures fill the cottage’s quirky rooms and, outside, every turn conjures childhood memories of holiday excitement.

Birmingham Back to Backs – carefully restored, atmospheric 19th century courtyard of the houses of working people who helped make Birmingham the workshop of the world.

Kinwarton Dovecote near Alcester, Warwickshire – a rare 14th century circular dovecote with metre thick walls, over 580 nesting holes and the original rotating ladder, nestled in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside.

Lyveden, near Oundle, Northamptonshire – intriguing Elizabethan lodge and moated garden, a survivor of the Elizabethan age and the starting point for exploring the Lyveden Way path through meadows, woodland and villages.

Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire – from here Sir Isaac Newton changed the world.  And, somewhat topically, he did it in isolation,  while avoiding the Great Plague. He worked in solitude, experimenting obsessively, laying the foundations for today’s science.

The Fleece Inn, near Evesham, Worcestershire – oh to be in a pub, this half-timbered medieval farmhouse which was first licensed in 1848. It has developed a reputation for traditional folk music, morris dancing and asparagus!

Market Hall, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire (pictured above) – 400 year-old Cotswold market hall in this beautiful town surrounded by ancient houses made from the local honey-coloured stone.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses – a high sandstone ridge and hill fort overlooking dramatic red sandstone rock houses.  A wildlife haven with sweeping views.

Croome, Worcester – a secret wartime airbase, now a visitor centre, once a hub of activity for thousands of people. Outside is the grandest of English landscapes -‘Capability’ Brown’s first commission – with commanding views over the Malverns.

Houghton Mill and Waterclose Meadows, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire – impressive working 18th century watermill and campsite.  Set in an idyllic village location on an island on Great Ouse River, the Mill has inspired artists and photographers for decades.  Maybe a place to stay in a LoveBus campervan.

Of course everywhere’s closed right now, or fully booked, but that won’t always be the case.  At least I have my list and can tick them off in the months to come.

Published by brianjonesdiary

Dad, husband, brother and son. Interested in travel, politics, sport, health and much more. Semi-retired and aiming to making the most of life as I approach my sixth decade.

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